Monday, September 27, 2010

A Horse of a Different Color

Lexington is horse country, and while we love to visit Matthias at law school, it is not disappointing that the Virginia Horse Center is in the same town as Washington and Lee.  The shows there are always free- at least that we have seen, sparsely attended, and the coliseum has free wifi. The food is good and not too pricey and the horses are often national quality. This may be as close to heaven on earth as it gets. The only thing that would make it better is a free style and trim by Vidal Sassoon himself while we sit there with one eye on the horses, one eye on our email, and chomping on soft pretzels.

So on our return trip from Law School Day with Matthias, we stopped to see the Draught Horse show. The Irish Draught horse was not the big clumpy Clydesdale-like horse we had expected. It is a powerful and muscular horse that was selectively bred in the early 1800s by the Irish who needed horses that were strong but not Arnold Schwarzeneggers like Clydesdales or Percherons. They were able to pull plows in the field, but then leap over fences on the fox-hunt outings.

On our trip, we first went to the indoor arena and watched the conformation show, which is where the owners show the judges how pretty their horses are. Our favorite was a mare led in with her baby trotting behind her. The baby was not being judged, but apparently it was ok for the mama to have the beloved baby with her. I think that shows great kindness on the part of the Irish Draught horse show committee.

Then on the spectacular cool clear day, we headed to the outdoor arena to watch the jumpers. The mountains circled us in the distance, the air was crisp and perfect, and the horses were putting on a magnificent show for us as we ate our lunch.

"Oh look," said Asherel, "That horse has a skeleton painted on it."
I glanced up.
There at ringside was a white horse. One side of him was painted with an anatomically perfect and well done horse skeleton. The other side, in full color was a painting of all his muscles. I am used to odd things.... afterall, I believe that God became man and numbers every one of my hairs and every sparrow feather. Still, one cannot look at a white horse with a skeleton painted on it and not ask....WHY?
Perhaps this is a brief worm hole into a parallel universe where everyone has an exoskeleton except the bugs, who have strong internal bones. Squashing them would be much more difficult, and in fact, I suspect in that universe, the bugs would squash us and laugh when they notice our blood is red and not yellow like theirs.

"The Breyer horse collection has a horse like that," Asherel told me.

So someone took great pains to paint their horse so that his insides could be observed , so that his skin appeared to be invisible.  The more I thought about that concept, the more sense it really made. If our insides were clearer from the get go, we would make far fewer mistakes in dating and marriage. Maybe the divorce rate would go down. We would know a little better what we were getting.  If every time we lied or cheated or got unjustly angry or spoke unkindly or felt envious, or covetous, or arrogant.... it was painted with bright colors on our skin, I suspect we would be a little more careful of our insides.

But actually, this is the case. We may not have eyes to see that way right now, but Someone does. God sees every thought and every deed. His xray vision permeates to our very heart. And it is the heart that is judged... not the outer skin.

I don't know if the skeleton horse was being paraded around to remind us to keep our souls pure and not worry so much about outer trappings. However, I think that it would be a good message, and a good use of a horse of a different color.

1 Chronicles 28:9 (NIV)
"And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.

Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. [24] See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

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